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Catching Up on EHR Upgrades: Job #1 for Health System CIOs

Once your EHR is fully operational enterprise-wide, regular upgrades and maintenance are the top priority.

However, during COVID your EHR priorities likely shifted.  Regular adherence to maintenance and regular upgrade schedules may have slipped. As a result, many health systems find themselves with an overloaded ticket system and a backlog of EHR upgrades.

According to EHRIntelligence.com, 31 percent of CIOs say that catching up on EHR upgrades is the top IT priority in 2021. What’s the best course of action? What are the key considerations? And why might outsourcing the management of upgrades and maintenance be your best bet?

Three Steps to Catch Up on EHR Upgrades

Step One: Know the Cycle of Your EHR Upgrades

If your review, testing and training cycle for an upgrade is 12-15 weeks, and your EHR vendor performs quarterly updates, you’ll quickly fall behind. It is imperative that CIOs know how long their internal teams and end-users take to accommodate an EHR upgrade. They must also have complete transparency into the EHR vendor’s upgrade schedule. These two components must come together to successfully catch up in 2021.

Step Two: Take Inventory of All Routine Maintenance; EHR and Beyond

Take inventory of all routine maintenance that might’ve fallen off during the pandemic. Items such as duplicate medical record clean up and ERP (or master file) management clean up are important areas that need regular IT attention.

Step Three: Set Realistic Expectations, Centralize, and Ask for Help

EHR maintenance and upgrades often interfere with primary duties. Be practical when setting expectations and timelines. In other words, if completing upgrades aren’t the primary goal for your team, don’t let them become the main thing the team is doing each day.

Routine maintenance of your EHR is paramount. Yet in today’s world of breaches and bad actors, maintenance is an almost daily task that can tax a team significantly. It’s important to consider the toll routine tasks can take on your employees. Employee turnover could become an issue if they are overloaded.

We’ve seen IT, HIM and reporting teams inundated with clean-up projects. In many cases the solution is a centralized EHR upgrade team and process. Business offices have centralized. HIM departments have centralized. Centralized EHR upgrade and maintenance teams are a proven next step.

With a centralized EHR upgrade team, everything is filtered through a single decision manager or team. Notes, builds, testing, training, and eventual rollout are all streamlined with a centralized EHR upgrade team. In addition, IT resources are optimized, overall costs are reduced, and staff satisfaction improves through a centralized team.

To catch up on backlogged EHR upgrades without burdening already over-taxed IT teams, CIOs should also consider asking for help. An outsourced managed services arrangement is extremely beneficial when resources are limited or time is tight.

An outsourced managed services team takes over your backlogged EHR maintenance and upgrades while your staff focuses on other top IT priorities. They are experts in understanding and maximizing efficiencies in the upgrade and maintenance cycles.

If you’d like to learn more best practices for navigating the changing EHR landscape, visit deliverhealth.com/strategies

AUTHOR

Douglas Herr

Vice President of EHR Services

Explore our vision for smarter healthcare.